I drove over to Noyers-sur-Cher yesterday for my examen de la vue — my eye exam. The optical shop is called Optique Noyers and I'd recommend it. The young woman who runs the place was on time (I was early for the appointment). Only one other customer was in the shop, and just for a few minutes, while I was sat there and waited. We all wore face coverings.
When it was my turn, I was shown into a well fitted-out room behind the opticians desk. There I saw all the familiar equipment from eye exams I've had in the U.S. — the test was not unfamiliar or surprising. One thing that did surprise me was that the optician asked me to give her my glasses so that she could see what the current level of correction I was using. Vous pouvez faire ça ?, I asked her. Oui, j'ai une machine pour le faire, she told me.
She could have just ordered lenses with the same correction factor as my old lenses, but she didn't. She did a full exam, and told me that both my eyes had changed since my glasses were made several years ago — I can't remember exactly when I had them made, but it was on one of my trips to North Carolina. The last prescription I have in my medical files is dated February 2009, but I think I had another exam after that. I showed that prescription to the optician and she said it didn't match the glasses I was wearing.
When the optician did a mock-up of the glasses she said she'd make for me, I could clearly (as it were) see the difference. Everything was sharper through her lenses that with my current glasses. Since both eyes had changed, I needed to order two new lenses to replace the lenses in the glasses that I had damaged, which is how this whole thing started. I suddenly realized that I would need to have two new pairs of glasses made, because I wanted two pairs that used the new correction level, one as my lunettes de secours — my spare pair, for emergencies — and one as my everyday glasses.
I asked the optician if I would be getting plastic lenses or glass lenses in the new glasses (a lens is called un verre in French, the same word you use for a drinking glass). I asked her if verres en verre are lot more expensive than verres en plastique. No, she said, but they are beaucoup plus dangereux.
Imagine if your glasses had had glass lenses in them when you fell a few months ago. The glass lens could have shattered and you could have seriously injured your left eye. Actually, that's my strong eye. In the right one I've always had blurry vision — the optician described it as un œil malade. If your good eye had been injured, instead of just having your plastic lens scratched, what would you have done then? Bonne question, I said.
The optician went on to explain that there were four types of lenses I could choose from, with prices going from 200 to 350 euros apiece. I don't know how that compares to American prices. She said the main difference in the lenses is how much peripheral vision they give you and how clear it is. I chose lenses in the middle range.
And I needed four of them, for two pairs of glasses. I didn't need new frames. I asked her if she could use her machine to see if my two pairs of glasses had identical lenses in them. Of course, she said. Then she told me that the glasses with the scratched lens seemed to be an older prescription than the ones I've been wearing recently. That surprised me. I thought they were the same. My memory is not what it used to be.
The optician printed out a devis [duh-VEE] — a price quote — showing what I would have to pay for the lenses. There was no separate charge for the examen de la vue. I looked over the quote and it was confusing. It looked like it listed one charge of about 420 euros, another for about 80 euros, and then another charge for 500 euros. I looked at her and said I had figured out in my head that it was going to cost me about a thousand euros for the four lenses.
Then she looked confused. No, she said. It will cost 500 euros. How can that be, I asked. Well, she said, when you buy a new pair of lenses, we give you a second pair at no cost! Wow, I thought. I had no idea. I had told myself before the eye exam not to be surprised if two new lenses would set me back between 600 and 800 euros. I don't know if all French optical shops offer deals like that, but Optique Noyers does. By the way, the 416.67 on the quote is the cost of the lenses HT (hors taxe) and 83.33 is the amount of TVA (VAT, a national sales tax). Those add up to the 500 euro total (TTC — toutes taxes comprises).
I left the shop a happy man. The lenses should come in next week, the optician said. I left the damaged glasses with her. When they have the new lenses in them, she'll call me and I'll go pick them up. I'll give her the glasses I'm wearing now and she'll put the new lenses in them while I wait, if I want to wait.